Iraqi forces seize control of strategic area near Mosul
MİDDLE EAST

Iraqi forces seize control of strategic area near Mosul

Move comes amid ongoing army operations to reestablish control over disputed parts of the country

News Service AA

Iraqi forces have reestablished control over the Makhmour district southeast of Mosul as part of ongoing operations to retake disputed parts of the country, according to an Iraqi military source.

“Iraqi forces have imposed full control over Makhmour following the withdrawal of Peshmerga fighters,” Rajab al-Saidi, an officer in the Iraqi Army’s General Command, told Anadolu Agency on Wednesday.

“Iraqi counter-terrorism forces, rapid-response teams, Federal Police units and Hashd al-Shaabi fighters all began moving into Makhmour late Tuesday,” he said.

Shortly after the arrival of Iraqi forces, Peshmerga fighters withdrew from the area and Federal Police imposed security on the district, according to al-Saidi.

On Tuesday evening, clashes erupted between Iraqi government forces and Peshmerga fighters north of Mosul, leaving two army officers and a soldier dead.

Tension has steadily mounted between Baghdad and northern Iraq’s Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) since Sept. 25, when Iraqis in KRG-held areas -- and in several disputed parts of the country -- voted on whether to declare independence from the Iraqi state.

According to results announced by the KRG, almost 93 percent of registered voters cast ballots in favor of independence.

The illegitimate referendum was heavily criticized by most regional and international actors, with many warning that it would distract from Iraq’s fight against terrorism and further destabilize the region.

Last week, government forces moved into several parts of Iraq disputed between Baghdad and the Erbil-based KRG, including the oil-rich Kirkuk province.

On Wednesday, the KRG -- fearing more military escalations by Baghdad -- offered to “freeze” the results of last month’s unconstitutional poll; halt all military activity; and enter into talks with the central government.

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